Skip to content

Author: JoeStartAuthor

from ridiculous to ambitious

First France, now UK, and soon Germany.  All have set a date of 2040 for the transition to no-emissions vehicles.  France fell off their rocker with an outright ban.  The UK’s approach is more moderate.  At least the Brits realised that banning makes current cars worthless, new gas/diesel cars unsellable, and threatens the jobs of nearly a million workers in their country alone.  The new goals are still incredibly ambitious, and will require the concerted efforts of many groups.

read story on

An interesting sidebar to the UK’s announcement is that they want to do away with speed bumps, which provoke severe braking, releasing fine particles into the air.  Road works have scattered bumps all over France, in copious quantities, and gradients to knock your socks off, or at least your bumper and muffler.  This is covered comically in Chapter 26 of French License.


1 Comment

Frontier Land

They are not long, the days of wine and roses.  Neither are the days of immunity when driving in France with foreign plates.  France claims that twelve countries now exchange information when they catch someone with out-of-country license plates on a moving violation.  Governments will send a notice over the border, in the language of the vehicle’s registration document.

No word yet on how effective this is, because the local authorities don’t get involved where the car is registered.  Clearly France has the most to gain from this exchange.  France has more radars than any country in Europe, the severest penalties for speeding, and a centrally situated land that neighbors must enter or cross to reach vacation and delivery destinations.  Auto taxes and penalties represent a whopping 17% of the total income of the French government.  They want visitors to add to that figure.

The list of tattle-tale territories includes Austria, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland.  Notably missing are states on the French frontier, including Britain, Monaco, and Andorra.

Chapters 15 and 42 of French License cover radar cameras in Europe and France’s pecuniary roads.

link in French:


Comments closed

New book cover

I’m pleased to announce that French License now has a book cover by a professional.  Finally the outside is as slick and funny as the inside:


I ran a contest with 99designs, received 30 different proposals, and settled on this one.  Thanks to all who voted to help me in my deliberations.

They also do company logos, banners, presentations and such.  If you’d like to run your own design contest, use this link:

Comments closed

code beats bac

Today in France, high school seniors got the results of their final exams.  A passing grade on the baccalaureate is needed to go on to college.  It’s a gruelling process, with 4-hour written tests each for widely diverse subjects like philosophy, math, science, literature, history, geography and at least two other languages besides French.  None of the questions are multiple-choice.  Even the math answers must be written out.  You can have the right result, but get the answer wrong because you didn’t explain how you got there.  In addition, there are 2-4 oral exams on these subjects, where you’re asked to give a speech and answer questions about it.  Two of these speeches are in different foreign languages.  Bless the kids who’ve gone through this ordeal over three weeks in late June, in classrooms well above 30-degrees celsius sometimes.  Despite the obstacles, 80% of the 700 000 candidats pass.

But if you think that’s tough, try getting your French driver’s license.  Twice as many people 1.44 million try the ‘code’ each year.  In the Paris region, less than 50% succeed.  How can that be?  It’s only 40 questions, multiple choice.  I know, right?  But it’s so much more difficult than that.  To learn how, check out the book French License.

© Copyright Joe Start. All rights reserved. Copyright © 2017

Comments closed

4th of dually

In honor of America’s Independence Day, I pulled this picture from my archives.

Did you ever see something so out of place that you had to stare?  We’re in this medieval town of Riquewihr, in Alsace.  Go ahead, say it.  In Alsace.  Get it out of your system.  In Alsace.  Joe was in Alsace!

Anyway, it’s a quaint little village that time forgot, with cobblestone streets and tiny shops.  It’s Easter.  Metal eggs are hung from the trees like they do in Germany.  Families are out for a quiet stroll.  Turning the corner, I see this thing.

Now, pickup trucks are unheard of in France.  But a dually?  Some local must’ve had a thing for US muscle.  His ride was big and loud and had the American flag painted on the side in big long stripes.  I barely had time to get out the camera and snap this before his mufflers thundered by.

Comments closed

foreign freeway funnies


In Germany, you can drive nude, as long as you’re wearing shoes.
In the UK, it’s permitted to pee on the side of the freeway.
In Luxembourg, you are required to have windshield wipers, but not required to have a windshield.

What strange road laws are there in France? Read my book French License to find out!

Comments closed